Just So’s first musical of the year, [title of show] offers a hilarious, heartfelt, and quirky look at the creative process as two guys write a musical about two guys writing a musical. I saw the show on its second night, and the performances by each of the four leads (Tommy Rowe, Mark Gregory, Mimi von Schack and Ayanna Coleman) had me humming the musical numbers all the way home.
Hunter and Jeff (Mark Gregory and Tommy Rowe) are two struggling writers (Hunter writes the book, Jeff writes the music) living in New York and feeling stuck in their dead-end part time jobs while waiting for their big break, which comes along with a new theatre festival. The only problem is the deadline is in three weeks, and they don’t have anything to send in. What comes out of this is [title of show], where Hunter and Jeff enlist their friends Heidi and Susan (Ayanna Coleman and Mimi von Schack) to help them write their musical. I thought this part of the show was its strongest, with songs like ‘Die Vampires Die’, sung admirably by von Schack and ‘Two Nobodies in New York’.
It became a bit rockier after the show was actually accepted into the festival. Numbers like ‘The Festival Medley’ dragged down the previously upbeat and peppy tone of the show. Though the cast and crew obviously worked as hard as they could to combat the repetitive tone of the script, I found myself drifting a bit at this point. This is not the fault of the [title] team, merely a product of an awkward montage piece of the script. The show picked up after this, though, with my personal favorite number of the show ‘Nine People’s Favorite Thing’ about staying true to what the original spirit of the show was, and not bowing to the pressures of a Broadway run.
Overall, this was an excellently done show, with great use of the Barron (described as ‘The Little Black Box That Could’ on the back of the program, and probably the most apt description of the Barron that I have ever seen) and the tiny cast size. [title of show] should be congratulated for some of the most complicated lighting and sound design I have ever seen in the Barron, which worked beautifully.
Each cast member carried their role admirably, with particular congratulations to von Schack and Coleman, for creating compelling characters out of roles that were not particularly written to be the stars- this role went to Mark Gregory and Tommy Rowe, who both equally stepped up to the task. Special mention should be made of Musical Director Frazer Hadfield, who appeared on stage for the entire performance, and managed to create a character from the (at most) four lines he was given. At times funny, heartfelt and incredibly earnest, this was a marvelous outing for the Just So Society.
Photo credit: PINUP